Why Disagreement is So Important

Our final book group session of the term today sparked interesting debate.  Was The Invisible Man  (H.G. Wells) a great example of early science fiction or should it be dismissed as silly and two dimensional as some critics have said?

What made this debate interesting was not the outcome  or whether a consensus was reached, but rather the fact that the students felt able to share their views and ideas openly with each other.  

Too often, students can feel that their opinions might be “wrong” in some way.  They lose the confidence to say what they really think, set in the mindset of right and wrong answers.  There are not enough opportunities in education for students to learn to confidently express themselves, listen to and understand other view points, and stand by their own views in the face of opposition.  

But these are life skills.  To progress in their chosen career, students will need good communication skills, confidence in their ideas and the ability to engage within a group of peers.  It is vital as parents and educators that we provide opportunities for students to develop these skills.  

Book groups are not the only way to do this of course, but I think they are a great way.  Books don’t have a right and wrong answer.  Everyone reacts to a book differently.  We can love it, hate it, or be indifferent.  Being able to express this and reflect on why, while seeing how others have reacted to the same book differently is energising and eye opening.  

I began running book groups 10 years ago to provide exactly these opportunities for my own children, and continue to run them now to help other students develop the same skills.